Since this is the season for giving thanks in the US, we might give some consideration to the unsung heroes who have been underwriting a big chunk of our economic recovery of late. Actually, we literally owe our future to them - in more ways than one. Since there are no free lunches in economics (that we all must agree on), somebody has to pay for this. And it should be obvious by now who that will be: our children and grandchildren (and at this rate, probably their children and grandchildren too).
With friends like this, who needs Republicans. President Obama may be turning over in his golf cart this Thanksgiving weekend as no lessor Democrat than Chuck "get back to work, Mr. Chairman" Schumer said Tuesday night that Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession. As National Journal reports, Schumer exclaimed, we "blew the opportunity the American people gave [us]." Little late to distance yourself from this cluster-tax chucky boy...
It's not a bubble. Until it is...
Central bank credibility is at all-time highs. As a consequence, we suggest, equities are near all-time highs too while gold is scraping multi-year lows. A change though may be in the offing with all three. Not today, nor tomorrow. But perhaps sooner than most think. Here’s how we see it...
Meanwhile, in politics and economics we live in a fantasy world. The feds claim to improve our economy. We pretend to believe it. Did a central bank ever add one single centime, one peseta, one zloty or one fraction of a mill to the world’s wealth? Not that we are aware of. But all over the world, central bankers pretend to sweat and toil on behalf of mankind – correcting… adjusting… nullifying the decisions of honest men and women going about their daily business. Interest rates are too high! Inflation is too low! Not enough demand! Too much savings! They are omniscient as well as all-powerful.
"The time to liquidate a given position is now seven times as long as in 2008, reflecting much smaller trade sizes in fixed income markets. In part the current liquidity illusion is a product of the risk asymmetries implied by the zero lower bound on interest rates, excess reserves in the system, and perceived central bank reaction functions. However, interest rates in advanced economies won’t remain this low forever. Once the process of normalization begins, or perhaps if market perceptions shift, and it is expected to begin, a re-pricing can be expected. The orderliness of that transition is an open question."
The last time the world's largest oil and gas drill operator, Seadrill, halted its dividend payment was in 2009, shortly after Lehman had filed and the world was engulfed in a massive depression. Retrospectively, this made sense: the company was struggling not only with depressionary oil prices, but with a legacy epic debt load as can be seen on the chart below. So the fact that the stock of Seadrill collapsed by 20% today following a shocking overnight announcement that it had once again halted its dividend despite what is a far lower debt load than last time, indicates that when it comes to energy companies, the current global economic "recovery" - if one believes the rigged US stock market - is actually worse than the Lehman collapse.
Is the price of oil today driven more by global growth and supply/demand factors or by monetary policy factors? We hope it doesn’t surprise anyone when we say that we think monetary policy dominates ALL markets today, including the global oil market. What’s the ratio? Our personal, entirely subjective view is that oil prices over the past 3+ months have been driven by 3 parts monetary policy to 1 part fundamentals. How do we come up with this ratio? For the past 3+ months the oil Narrative has been dominated by public statements from influential answer-suppliers talking up the oil price dynamic of a rising dollar and monetary policy divergence. That’s the source of our subjective view of a 3:1 dominance for monetary policy-driven factors over fundamental-driven factors. However – and this is the adaptive part where we play close attention to Narrative development and dissemination – the noise level surrounding this Thursday’s OPEC meeting is absolutely deafening.
A Tale Of Two Credit Markets: New Auto Loans Highest In 9 Years As New Mortgages Slump Near Record LowsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/25/2014 12:38 -0500
Remember when three weeks ago, everyone was stunned as the Manufacturing ISM soared to new 3 year highs, continuing this summer's trend of blistering manufacturing, which was largely attributed to a burst of automotive production? Now, courtesy of the latest Q3 household credit report by the NY Fed, we know just how it was funded. According to the report, some $105 billion in new car loans were issued is the third quarter, the highest amount since 2005, and just $20 billion shy of an all time high. That's the good news. The bad news as Equifax reported two months ago, new subprime loan origination is trending at about 31% and rising. And what's worst, is that recently both Moody's and Fitch joined forces in making up for their past oversights, and "slammed subprime auto bonds" suggesting this latest bout of subprime driven euphoria boosting the US manufacturing sector may not last. Or it may: after all the central banks are always on the lookout for new things to monetize.
A few points the "stocks are cheap" crowd should consider.
I love the idea that prosperity can be decreed by a G20 communiqué. World leaders in Brisbane have airily committed themselves to two per cent growth. (Why only two per cent? Why not 20 per cent? Or 200 per cent? Who knew it was so easy?) Meanwhile, in the real world, the divergence between Continental Europe and the rest of the planet accelerates. David Cameron can hardly have failed to notice, as he looked around the G20 table, that his European colleagues are the ones with the worst problems. Britain is in the wrong place.
Just two months after the OECD cut its global growth outlook, overnight the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development cut it again, taking down its US, Chinese, Japanese but mostly, Eurozone forecasts. In the report it said: "The Economic Outlook draws attention to a global economy stuck in low gear, with growth in trade and investment under-performing historic averages and diverging demand patterns across countries and regions, both in advanced and emerging economies. “We are far from being on the road to a healthy recovery. There is a growing risk of stagnation in the euro zone that could have impacts worldwide, while Japan has fallen into a technical recession,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said. “Furthermore, diverging monetary policies could lead to greater financial volatility for emerging economies, many of which have accumulated high levels of debt.” And sure enough, the OECD's prescription: more Eurozone QE. As a result, futures in the US are in fresh all time high territory ignoring any potential spillover from last night's Ferguson protests, just 30 points from Goldman's latest 2015 S&P target, Stoxx is up 0.5%, while bond yields are lower as frontrunning of central bank bond purchases resumes. Oil is a fraction higher due to a note suggesting the Saudi's are preparing for a bigger supply cut than expected, although as the note says "it is unclear if the cut sticks."
Auto loan delinquency rates jumped nearly 13% in the last year, according to a new report by Transunion, with young (under-30) Americans seeing a 17.8% surge in 60+ day delinquency rates, as auto loan debt rose for the 14th straight quarter to $17,352. While these are notable rises, the overall levels remain low for now, but subprime-loan-delinquencies rose notably to 5.31%. However, in a somewhat stunningly blinkered conclusion, Transunion's Peter Terek notes "the uptick in delinquency reflects a healthy and thriving auto finance industry where credit is more broadly available to all consumers." So delinquencies are great news...
Brent Plunge To $60 If OPEC Fails To Cut, Junk Bond Rout, Default Cycle, "Profit Recession" To FollowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/24/2014 10:11 -0500
While OPEC has been mostly irrelevant in the past 5 years as a result of Saudi Arabia's recurring cartel-busting moves, which have seen the oil exporter frequently align with the US instead of with its OPEC "peers", and thanks to central banks flooding the market with liquidity helping crude prices remain high regardless of where actual global spot or future demand was, this Thanksgiving traders will be periodically resurfacing from a Tryptophan coma and refreshing their favorite headline news service for updates from Vienna, where a failure by OPEC to implement a significant output cut could send oil prices could plunging to $60 a barrel according to Reuters citing "market players" say.
"Even if economic conditions continue improving, equity prices are bound to fall sharply at some point, inflicting painful losses on investors. This is what happened in 1987, roughly five years into the last structural bull market. Boom-bust cycles are inevitable because improving economic conditions encourage speculative excesses, which are then blown away as greed gives way to fear."